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Poe assails presidential adviser’s proposal for common tower policy

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By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Grace Poe vowed that she will go to court should Presidential Adviser on economic affairs and information technology communications Ramon Jacinto insist on pushing ahead with his common tower policy which would initially allow only two independent tower companies to build cellular towers in the country.

Senator Grace Poe (Senate of the Philippines official Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Grace Poe
(Senate of the Philippines official Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Poe bared this as she reiterated her opposition to the draft memorandum circular crafted by Jacinto on the policy, saying it was going to be counterproductive to the government’s aim of improving the telecommunications services in the country.

“Talagang tututulan ko ‘yan at saka hindi ko lang basta-bastang tututulan. Dahil kung saka-sakaling hindi nila tayo pinakinggan…mag-fa-file tayo ng kaso kasi kailangan talagang pigilan ang mga ganitong uri ng mga polisiya na sa tingin ko ay makakasama sa ating mga kababayan (I will really object to that and I will not just ‘oppose’. Because if they don’t listen to us…we will file cases as we have to prevent such policies, that, I think, will harm our countrymen),” Poe said in a radio interview Thursday.

Jacinto, in his draft memorandum circular, proposed that a maximum of two independent tower companies be registered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the first four years of the implementation of the common tower policy.

After this, the NTC may register as many new tower companies as necessary, particularly in rural areas.

Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio earlier said the common tower policy being proposed would be challenged by telecommunication companies in court as it would violate their legislative franchises.

The Philippine Competition Commission, the Office of the Solicitor General and industry stakeholders have also opposed the draft policy for its “anti-competitive” nature.

Poe, for her part, said the government should be moving towards improving the infrastructure to improve the internet and cellular phone signals in the country.

She lamented that the country still lacks 45,000 cellular towers.

She also commended the administration’s effort to break the duopoly of the telecommunication services.

But if Jacinto’s proposed policy is adopted, Poe said the construction of towers would run counter to the government’s thrust.

“Hindi ba ang gusto nga ng Presidente magkaroon ng mas maraming kumpetisyon lalung-lalo na pagdating diyan sa cellular service para mas bababa ang presyo, mas magiging efficient. Itong ginagawa ni Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs ay parang kabaligtaran (Doesn’t the President want to have more competition especially in the cellular service industry so that prices are lower and more efficient? What the Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs proposes is the opposite),” Poe said.

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